Thompson wows large crowd

ALPENA – The Alpena County Fair welcomed Josh Thompson for the WATZ Listener Appreciation Night on Tuesday. Thompson charmed the crowd with his energy and genuine love for country music, singing hits he wrote such as Way Out Here, Beer on the Table and his soon-to-be-released new single Cold Beer with Your Name on It, the first of his singles he hasn’t written on his own.

“It’s the first outside song that I recorded because it’s one of those things I just fell in love with,” Thompson said. “The single drops (on iTunes) Monday, and the record is soon to be finished and will be out sometime after the first of the year.”

While waiting for the concert, Thompson and his crew took a little time to fish on the Thunder Bay River and practice target shooting behind the stage. He said they always carry their fishing and hunting gear with them to every show. The crew keeps busy with recreational fun every time they visit a new location.

“We’ve got corn hole boards, we shoot bow, go fishin’, write songs, visit the local restaurants and local bars to pretty much get the feel of the town,” Thompson said.

He was 21 when he picked up his first guitar, which he joked was to “try to get chicks,” but really was because he wanted to learn some cover songs to play around the campfire with his friends.

“I wanted to play some songs I love around the campfire. That was really about it until I started writing my own,” Thompson said. “It became something that I was always looking for. Eventually I’d written all these songs and was like, ‘you know, maybe I should move to Nashville and see if I can do anything with it.’ And I did it.”

Thompson had been a blue-collar worker most of his life until he got his break after moving to Nashville, so living on the road has been a big adjustment.

“It’s a trick getting used to it. Now it’s just like a second hat to me,” he said. “I really enjoy traveling and it really is a great way to see America. I’ve seen a good portion of it and probably see most of the places two and three and four times, but I really enjoy it.”

During all the travel time, Thompson writes, a lot. Some of his songs have been picked up by country artists Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Gary Allan and Jason Michael Carrol. He said it’s hard to decide which songs to keep and which ones he gives for others to record.

“Timing has a lot to do with it. If I write something that I absolutely love and I’m cutting my record next week, I won’t let anybody take it,” he said. “But if my record is done and we’re still say, 12 months away from recording; because I write a lot, I write about 100 songs a year; so then timing really kind of dictates what we end up pitchin’ around.”

When a big recording artist picks up one of his songs, Thompson really feels that what he’s doing is right.

“It’s awesome. I love it. It really is a huge honor,” he said. “It’s the reason I’m in town is to write songs and sing them and write songs for other people and when it happens it’s a great thing. I love it.”

As far as future goals and plans for this young star, he has them laid out with big dreams for continuing his career.

“I see becoming an Opry member one day, a string of hit records and hit singles, and songwriter of the year at some point in time. I feel like those are good goals,” he said.

Thompson boasts two hits with high billboard numbers for Beer on the Table at No. 17, and Way Out Here at No. 15 on the U.S. Country charts. Beer on the Table went on to peak at No. 3 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart and his album Way Out Here hit No. 9 on the U.S. Country Chart in 2010.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.